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breadth, and clarity of vision. This tragedy of disillusion has at least the saving quality of a rich and many-sided knowledge of life.
Queen Elizabeth died in March, 160.3, while Shakespeare was absorbed in the problems presented in the Tragedies. His silence when the chorus of elegies filled the air has already been noted; his friendship for Southampton and Essex had probably estranged him from the Queen. Shortly after his accession to the throne, James I. showed his favor to a group of nine actors, among whom were Shakespeare and Burbage, by granting them a special license of a very liberal character, and giving them the right to call themselves the King's Servants. The plays of Shakespeare were repeatedly presented before the
GEORGE CHAPMAN King at various places ; among
From a very old print. them, Wilton House, the residence of show that Shakespeare's company apthe Earl of Pembroke, which stands in peared before the King at Whitehall on a charming country about three miles at least eleven occasions. Much as the from Salisbury, and in which Sidney King loved the society of prelates and wrote the “ Arcadia.” The whole region the amenities of theological discussion, it is touched with literary associations of the is clear that he was not indifferent to the most diverse kinds. The course of travel charms of the stage. taken by Shakespeare's company makes it One of the plays which the King saw probable that he saw the noble Cathedral was “ Othello." In “Hamlet” Shakein its beautiful close, as Dickens saw it speare spoke for and to the Germanic when he laid the scene of “ Martin Chuz- consciousness; in “Romeo and Juliet," zlewit ” in that neighborhood, and that and still more directly in “Othello,” he he passed the little church where holy spoke for and to the Latin consciousness. George Herbert lived five years of his “Othello " is one of the simplest, most beautiful life a quarter of a century direct, conventional, and objective of the later. In the following year, wearing the plays. In its main lines it is an oldscarlet robe presented for the occasion, fashioned drama of blood-shedding, saved Shakespeare, in company with other by the penetrating insight with which the actors, walked in the procession which motives of the chief characters are reformally welcomed the King to London. vealed, and by the vitalizing skill with Mr. Lee agrees with Mr. Halliwell- which the situations are related to the Phillipps in the belief that Shakespeare plot and the plot rooted in the moral and his fellow-actors of the King's Com- necessities of the human nature within pany were present at Somerset House by the circle of movement. The thread of royal order, and took part in the magnifi- the story was clearly traced by Cinthio in cent ceremonies with which the Spanish the series of novels from which “ Measure ambassador, who came to England to for Measure” was also derived. The ratify the treaty of peace between the two Italian romancer furnished nearly all the countries, was entertained at midsummer incidents, but Shakespeare breathed the in the same year. And during the suc- breath of dramatic life into them, made ceeding autumn and winter the records Othello and Desdemona the central fig
ures, and developed the subtle deviltry of By reason of its simplicity, its rapidity Iago.
of movement, and its dramatic interest, It is Othello's open and generous nature “Othello " has long been one of the popwhich, like the idealism of Brutus, makes ular Shakespearean plays on the stage. him the victim of men smaller than him. Its chief characteristic is perhaps its self. Desdemona loves him for the dan- pathos; the deep and penetrating appeal gers he has passed, and, like Helena, which the spectacle of the defeat of two surrenders herself without question or noble natures by pure villainy makes to hesitation to her passion. The audacity the imagination. Wordsworth declared of her surrender is heightened by the dif- that "the tragedy of Othello, Plato's rec: ference of race between her and Othello—a difference so wide
CPCCIONES and deep that
VPHILOSOPHIE to cross it al
I PRINCEP most inevitably created a tragic situation. From the very beginning the play is touched with a certain violence of emotion and action which bears in itself the elements of disaster. Iago, keeping himself in the background and striking blow after blow, is one of the most significant and original of Shakespeare's creations-a malicious servant of a fate compounded of his devilish keenness of insight into the weaknesses of noble natures and of their unsuspicious trustfulness. The basis of tragedy in Othello was
FRANCIS BACON' his ready belief in Iago and his quickly awakened dis- ords of the last scenes in the caree: trust of Desdemona. In the end, Iago, Socrates, and Izaak Walton's Life like most of those who invoke tragic forces George Herbert,' are the most path for evil ends, is destroyed by the tempest of human compositions." of passion he has let loose in the world. Shakespeare was now swiftly moun
A GROUP OF SHAKESPEARE PORTRAITS
From the Shakespeare Museum at Stratford. to the sublimest heights of dramatic crea- unity and totality of the movement, and tion, penetrating further and further into the concentrated energy and vitality of the the depths of the human spirit, and stead- dramatist's genius bear the drama swiftly ily bringing the tragic movement home to forward to the dramatic crisis. the soul of the tragic hero. In “ Romeo In “ Macbeth," which takes rank with and Juliet” the family and social forces “ Hamlet,” “ Lear," and "Othello” as are more powerful than the passion and the dramatic masterpieces of Shakespeare, devotion of the ill-fated lovers; in “ Julius the same breadth and unity of interest are Cæsar” the interest fastens upon Brutus, notable. It is one of the shortest of the while the dead Imperator remains in the plays; there is almost no relief from background as the personification of a humor or a subsidiary plot; the style is new order in society ; in “Hamlet” the broad and firm, almost sketchy in the time, which was out of joint, must be taken largeness of outline and the indifference into account if the chief actor is to be to detail. The brevity and condensation made comprehensible. In “Othello " the of the play have raised the question essential movement is wholly within the whether it is not an abridgment. There circle of the character of the protagonist; is no question, however, regarding the the tragic action springs out of Othello's definiteness and completeness of impresnature; the drama issues out of the heart of sion which it conveys—an impression of the hero and is centered in him. This massive and inevitable tragedy. The marks the culmination of Shakespeare's sources of “Macbeth” are to be found in art as a dramatist; every element in the Holinshed's “ Chronicle of England and play—character, action, incident, back- Ireland;" suggestions for the witch scenes ground—is strictly subordinated to the may have been found in the “ Discoverie of Witchcraft " which appeared not long which allusion is made in the stage-direcbefore the poet left Stratford. The play tions of “ Macbeth " appear in “The was completed about 1606. and the Scot Witch.” Charles Lamb long ago pointed tish background suggests that the interest out the marked differences between the of the King in the scenic and historic asso- witches of Shakespeare and those of Midciations of the drama may have directed dleton; the resemblances between the Shakespeare's attention to the subject. plays are most readily explained by the
“ Macbeth” presented the poet with a assumption that Middleton had Shakenew motive or theme of dramatic interest. speare too much in his mind. The two Up to this point the tragic heroes had songs beginning “ Come away, come committed deeds of violence, but Lear away,” and “Black spirits and white," spoke for them all when he said :
may have been written by Middleton I am a man more sinn'd against than sinning. and interpolated in the acting version of Macbeth does not belong in this com “ Macbeth” at a later date, or they may pany of the children of fate; he deliber have been written by Shakespeare and ately sets in motion the tragic forces revised or modified by Middleton. The which sweep the stage; he becomes a crim- scene in which the porter speaks after the inal on a colossal scale ; he kills his King murder was long regarded as questionunder his own roof, uses murder as if it able. Coleridge found the introduction were a legitimate political method, and of the comic element too abrupt, and converts all the opportunities of usurpa- failed to perceive the deepening of the tion into a consistent practice of tyranny. tragic impression which the scene proHe fills the stage; the whole drama is duces by its startling contrast with the rooted in his nature; and, criminal as he awful atmosphere of crime which pervades is, he commands unwilling admiration and the castle. This point was finally settled breathless interest by the massive sim- by the keen instinct of De Quincey in one plicity of his character, the concentration of the most famous passages in Shakeof his purpose, and the directness of his spearean criticism : action. The play moves with unusual Another world has stept in; and the murrapidity, and presents no elements which derers are taken out of the region of human withdraw the attention for a moment from
things, human purposes, human desires. They
are transfigured: Lady Macbeth is “unthe central figures or the swift and definite
sexed;" Macbeth has forgot that he was born movement.
of a woman; both are conformed to the image The weird sisters on the blasted heath of devils ; and the world of devils is suddenly had long been part of the Macbeth legend.
revealed. But how shall this be conveyed
and made palpable? In order that a new In Shakespeare's version of the story
world may step in, this world must for a time these supernatural beings were neither the disappear. The murderers and the murder creations of Macbeth's brain nor the mas- must be insulated-cut off by an immeasters of his destiny ; they had objective
urable gulf from the ordinary tide and suc
cession of human affairs-locked up and sereality, but they were not the ministers of
questered in some deep recess; we must be fate. Macbeth's fate was in his own made sensible that the world of ordinary life hands. The sisters spoke to Banquo as is suddenly arrested, laid asleep, tranced, directly as to Macbeth, but Banquo's clear racked into a dread armistice; time must be
annihilated, relation to things abolished : and vision and deep integrity gave their word
all must pass self-withdrawn into a deep no lodgment. Whether they speak truth syncope and suspension of earthly passion. or falsehood, they leave his fate untouch- Hence it is that, when the deed is done, when ed.in Macbeth's mind on the other hand the work of darkness is perfect, then the world
of darkness passes away like a pageantry in they find a quick soil for evil suggestion.
the clouds; the knocking at the gate is heard : It has been urged by several critics and it makes known audibly that the reaction that some parts of “ Macbeth” were in- has commenced ; the human has made its reterpolated at a later day by Thomas Mid
flux upon the fiendish ; the pulses of life are
beginning to beat again ; and the re-establishdleton, chiefly on the ground that these
ment of the goings-on of the world in which passages are un-Shakespearean in char- we live first makes us profoundly sensible of acter, that there are obvious resemblances the awful parenthesis that had suspended between the witch scenes in the play and them. Middleton's play, “ The Witch," which Dr. Simon Forman has left an account appeared in 1610, and that two songs to of a performance of " Macbeth " which he